With the sensational 1-2 finish from Mugello still fresh in its mind, Bridgestone heads to the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona for the seventh round of the 2008 MotoGP world championship. Valentino Rossi leads the classification by 12 points...
With the sensational 1-2 finish from Mugello still fresh in its mind, Bridgestone heads to the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona for the seventh round of the 2008 MotoGP world championship. Valentino Rossi leads the classification by 12 points after three consecutive wins in China, France and Italy.
Second-placed man from Italy, Casey Stoner, scored one of his ten wins in 2007 at the Circuit de Catalunya after an epic cat and mouse battle with Rossi and Dani Pedrosa right up to the chequered flag. The Ducati champion won the 25-lap duel from Rossi by a marginal 0.069s with third placed Pedrosa just 0.390s adrift making it the closest podium of the season. It was the first time that a Bridgestone-shod rider had even finished on the podium in Catalunya.
The hectic run of European races demands an equally aggressive rate of technical development for tyre manufacturers. Bridgestone has sent several hundred tyres from the technical centre in Tokyo, and from its European warehouse in Germany, to Barcelona, including some new specification rear race tyres that were successfully tested after the grand prix in Le Mans just a few weeks ago.
Hiroshi Yamada - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Motorcycle Sport Unit
"The last few races have seen a gradual improvement in our general competitiveness which has left me quite pleased. It has been great to see the last three races won on our tyres, but the Italian GP also saw several teams challenge for the podium with Valentino winning, Casey in second and Alex fourth, truly excellent performances. We can not take anything for granted in this sport, though, and we expect a real challenge from our rivals again this weekend. Casey won here last year, which was the first time a Bridgestone rider had even finished on the podium in Catalunya, so I hope we can draw from this experience and get another good result this weekend."
Tohru Ubukata - Bridgestone Motorsport - Manager, Race Tyre Development
"The Circuit de Catalunya is a technical circuit with an asymmetrical proportion of corners with eight right-handers and just five left. The right-hand side of the tyre is put under considerable stress around the lap due to this frequency of long, right-handers, which significantly increase the temperatures on that side of the tyre. The asphalt surface is quite smooth, similar to somewhere like Shanghai, and quite tough on tyres. While soft tyres would enhance immediate grip levels, the abrasion over race distance requires us to run harder compounds for both front and rear, so we must again look at balancing performance with durability. We saw a notable improvement in our competitiveness in last year's race with a thrilling battle up front, which resulted in Casey taking an excellent and well-deserved victory. His consistency over 25 laps was the key to that win, and durability over the race distance will again be a priority."
Bridgestone riders were on strong form around the Circuit de Catalunya from the opening practice sessions. John Hopkins led a brigade of seven Bridgestone riders in the top ten on Friday, as Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa were the men to beat. Saturday's qualifying session saw Rossi take pole position but by just 0.061s from Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet. Casey Stoner and John Hopkins also performed well and took fourth and fifth. In sweltering heat it was a three-way tussle between Rossi, Pedrosa and Stoner for the win, but after many passing manoeuvres, it was Ducati and Stoner who emerged victorious to take the first ever podium and win on Bridgestone tyres in Barcelona.